Clicquot in the Sky: Chicago House Champagne Benefit January 26th 2012

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin is both a Champagne house in Reims, France, and a brand of premium Champagne. Founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot-Muiron, Veuve Clicquot played an important role in establishing Champagne as a favored drink of haute bourgeoisie and nobility throughout Europe.

Notorious for its history of innovation Veuve Clicquot has become known as the Champagne House with cutting edge ideas.

Each year Chicago House hosts a Veuve Clicquot benefit at a different venue. This year the event reaches new heights. On the 99th floor of the SkyDeck, Willis Tower bubbly drinks await you!

Artists from around the city present their various interpretations of Clicquot and a fantastic silent auction keeps everyone bidding throughout the evening as the Veuve flows.

Date: Thursday, January 26, 2012

Time: 6:00 pm

Where: The SkyDeck, Willis Tower
233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL

Contact: Michael Herman
mherman@chicagohouse.org
Phone – 773.248.5200 x 303

Champagne de Venoge receives top scores from Wine Spectator for 5 newly released Champagnes

Champagne de Venoge received top scores from Wine Spectator for five newly released Champagnes that are currently available for purchase:

• Brut Champagne Louis XV 1996 – 93 points

• Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 2002 – 93 points

• Extra Brut Rosé Champagne Louis XV 2002 – 93 points

• Extra Brut Cuvee 20 ans Champagne 1983 – 92 points, and

• Extra Brut Champagne Cordon Bleu NV – 91 points

Champagne de Venoge was also selected among the “100 Best Champagnes for 2011” in Fine Champagne Magazine. Essi Avellan, Master of Wine, conducted an extensive review of Champagnes in this magazine and Champagne de Venoge got the 14th position among the Top 100 as well as the 3rd position for vintage Champagne and number 7 for rose Champagne.

Among this list, Champagne Louis XV 1996 has already received international acclaims since the release of this prestigious cuvee. After spending more than 10 years in de Venoge’s cellars in Epernay, this 1996 vintage is now on sale with a beautiful packaging and its famous «carafe» bottle.

About Champagne de Venoge
For more than 170 years, Champagne de Venoge has earned itself a privileged place in the heart of the vineyards of Champagne. Ambassador for exceptional wines of Champagne, de Venoge is first of all a family story in the constant quest for excellence. A Blue Ribbon has been the symbol of the nobility since the 16th century. In 1864, when de Venoge launched its “Cordon Bleu”, it became a mark of distinction and refinement. At the edge of the Champagne tradition in its most beautiful and noble form, de Venoge’s reputation also lies in the terroir, the rigorous selection of the best grapes in Champagne and the perpetuation of a unique style. The fine vinosity associated to the incomparable freshness brings to de Venoge’s Champagnes elegance and harmony – All this for the greatest pleasure of Champagne lovers!

Liz Palmer
@champagnehouses

Moet & Chandon toasts their ‘21st Anniversary’ as the Official Champagne of the 69th Annual Golden Globe® Awards with 2002 Grand Vintage Collection

Moet & Chandon is returning as the official Champagne of the 69th Annual Golden Globe® Awards, which is produced by Dick Clark Productions and in association with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). In a toast to its 21st year with the iconic awards ceremony, Moet & Chandon will introduce their award-winning 2002 Grand Vintage Champagne with a celebratory toast at this year’s Golden Globe Awards nominations announcement which will be lead by HFPA president, Dr. Aida Takla-O’Reilly and Ludovic du Plessis, vice president of Moet & Chandon USA.

“Moet & Chandon has celebrated the magic of cinema for nearly a century, and we look forward to continuing to host and toast cinema icons in its legendary spirit of success and glamour at the Golden Globes,” said Ludovic du Plessis, Vice President of Moet & Chandon USA.

The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards will mark the first time that Moet & Chandon will serve Grand Vintage champagne from customized magnums created specifically for the occasion.

“Once again we’re happy to have Moet & Chandon on board with us as the official champagne of the Golden Globes®,” remarked Takla-O’Reilly. “This year marks a special year for us as our partnership enters its 21st year.”

Over 1,000 Moet & Chandon Imperial minis and 500 Grand Vintage 2002 magnums will be served on both the red carpet and inside the ballroom totalling over 9,000 glasses of Moet & Chandon enjoyed during one of Hollywood’s biggest nights.

Tasting Notes:

A blend of 51% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir and 23% Pinot Meunier

A good white creamy mousse. Pale gold with very fine and persistent bead. The nose displays aromas of toasted brioche, yeast lees, citrus and some baked bread. Creamy in texture the palate exhibits refined flavours of toast, citrus, biscuit and yeast lees. Clean crisp finish with long aftertaste of toast, yeast lees and brioche.

Drink over the next 5-6 years (2016)

Alc 12.5%

The 2002 Grand Vintage Champagne has been awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator magazine in its recent issue.

Liz Palmer
@champagnehouses

Toasting the Bad Economy? Champagne Sales Bubble Up

Champagne sales are bubbling again.

The French industry is preparing for a bumper holiday season, a significant recovery from just two years ago, when it slashed production in the face of the global economic downturn.

By the end of September, the Champagne industry had shipped 192 million bottles, and the festive fourth quarter is usually the strongest, accounting for a third to a half of annual bubbly sales. That could put it on track to near the record 339 million bottles shipped in 2007.

The Champagne rebound reflects the effervescence in the luxury-goods industry as a whole. The world’s largest luxury-goods group, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the owner of fashion and beauty brands such as Louis Vuitton and Guerlain as well as several champagne labels, recorded 15% sales growth over the first nine months of 2011. Luxury fashion rivals such as Hermès and PPR’s Gucci logged similarly robust growth.

“Champagne sales are faring well ahead of the holiday season and are up 15% compared to 2010,” said Emeric Sauty de Chalon, president of French online wine shop 1855, which last month organized a major Champagne tasting in Paris.

Though sales may not reach the levels seen before the crisis, “we’re getting closer,” said Stephanie Mingam, the spokeswoman for drinks group Pernod Ricard’s Champagne division, which owns Mumm and Perrier-Jouët champagne.

The industry took a serious hit in 2008 and 2009. Champagne makers—famous-brand and independent producers alike—cut production drastically to avoid a large drop in prices, leaving tons of grapes rotting in the fields during the harvest.

Shipments from the Champagne region—located east of Paris, and the only place in the world that is permitted to use the region’s name for its bubbly—fell below 300 million bottles in 2009 for the first time in five years, according to CIVC, the champagne trade organization. Last year, the industry shipped 320 million bottles, valued at €4.1 billion ($5.49 billion), the CIVC said.

Like the luxury-goods industry in general, however, champagne makers remain cautious about the future. They fear that a deepening of the euro crisis could dampen consumers’ thirst for a beverage that is associated with celebration and good times. Mr. Sauty de Chalon is now pitching bubbly as a distraction rather than a celebration. Champagne “is a means to escape everyday life,” he says.

The first signs of a bumper year came this past summer. The CIVC, which sets the criteria for the harvest, authorized the maximum volume of grape picking—a sign of optimism for the medium term as grapes picked this year will be aged for at least two years.

Then, in October, LVMH said the group’s Veuve Clicquot Champagne was holding back some stock as it faced supply shortages ahead of the holiday season, particularly in the U.S. “We don’t have enough bottles, and we made sure that these bottles were left for the year-end season,” Jean-Jacques Guiony, the finance director, said in October. LVMH also owns such Champagne brands as Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon.

Other Champagne makers have also noted that consumers are willing to pay more for their bubbly. Lanson-BCC, the home of the Lanson, Besserat and Tsarine brands, said the price/mix effect—a key indicator reflecting both the type of Champagne customers buy and the evolution in prices—rose 5.6% in the first nine months of the year. Competitor Laurent-Perrier said its price-mix effect increased 7.6% between April and September, and its net profit tripled.

That marks a sharp contrast with discounted Champagne in French supermarkets last December, when some bubbly was marked down to less than €10 a bottle.

This year, 1,500 visitors paid €25 each to attend 1855’s champagne tasting at a luxury hotel in Paris. They swarmed tables serving such brands as Mumm Grand Cru, Perrier-Jouët 2004 Belle Epoque and Louis Roederer 2004 Cristal. Within four hours, the party had run dry.

The Wall Street Journal

LAURENT-PERRIER announces sharp increase in results for first half of 2011-2012

A Grand Century Ewer

Laurent-Perrier is one of the few champagne houses listed on the French stock exchange dedicated exclusively to champagne and focused on the premium segment. Laurent-Perrier offers a broad range of products renowned for their quality, and sold under the brands Laurent-Perrier, Salon, Delamotte, and Champagne de Castellane.

• Results in line with strategic choices
o Above market growth for Laurent-Perrier brand
o Increase in premium champagnes and export sales ratios
o Markedly positive price/mix effect
o Significant improvement in operating margin
o Further improvement in cash-flow and debt reduction

The accounts for the first half of the 2011-2012 financial year have been reviewed by the Supervisory Board chaired by Maurice de Kervénoaël.

Main audited financial data

September 30 H1
2010-2011 H1
2011-2012 Change on Y-1
Turnover 81.2 92.0 + 13.3%
Operating profit 9.9 19.9 x 2
Operating margin (%) 12.2% 21.6% + 9.4 pts
Group net income 2.96 9.49 x 3
Earnings per share (euros) 0.50 1.61 + 1.11
Net cash flow* – 17.2 – 14.2 + 3.0M

* Cash flow from operations minus net investment, minus dividends
Commercial performance higher than market average

The 13.3% increase in turnover reflects a better than market average commercial performance: Group sales volumes rose by 5.8%, whereas global shipments by champagne houses rose by only 2.2% between April and September 2011.

Thanks to a speeding up growth, the Laurent-Perrier brand has galvanized Group performance. Its value indicators continued the recovery begun in 2009-2010, with the export ratio gaining 3.8 points to 73.8% and the premium champagne ratio rising 3.3 points to 38.4%. Activity was especially dynamic on markets outside Europe, where the proportion of sales grew by 3 percentage points relative to the first half of last year. Especially noteworthy were the United States and Japan, where sales were up sharply over the half-year, confirming the brand’s growing international presence.

Taking advantage of a steady, coherent brand development investment policy, Laurent-Perrier has benefited from the warm welcome given to the new boxing and labelling of the brut champagne lines in January, from the launch of the 2002 vintage champagne and from communication campaigns featuring Cuvée Rosé.

The Group’s price/mix effect became markedly positive once more, at 7.8% compared with a negative 15.7% in the first half of the last financial year on the strength of the increased contribution of the Laurent-Perrier brand to turnover, the successful launch of Salon’s 1999 Vintage, and the price increase implemented during the first quarter.

Significant improvement in operating margin

Operating profit rose for the third consecutive semester, increasing by close to 10 million euros compared with the first half of the last financial year, and driving the operating margin above the 20% threshold to 21.6%. This significant improvement highlights the following advances:

• Gross margin picked up at 51.1%, a gain of 3.2 points in the first half thanks to a positive price/mix effect combined with an improvement in the grape harvest margin due to higher yields.

• At 27.5 million euros, commercial and administrative costs fell by 1.2 million euros over the period. The decrease reflects the Group’s continued strict financial management. Brand development investment amounted to 7.3% of turnover, in line with the long-term average.
The financial result was stable compared with the first half of FY 2010-2011, at 5.3 million euros. The tax rate was down slightly at 34.5%.

Group net income came to 9.49 million euros, treble the amount for the first half of the previous financial year.

Further improvement in net cash-flow and net debt reduction

Compared with the previous year, net cash-flow continued to pick up. Even if it remained in negative territory due to the seasonal nature of Group activity, it improved by 3 million euros during the six month period thanks to the trebling of net income and the stabilization of inventory levels.

The Group has, therefore, passed a new milestone in its debt reduction programme, which fell by 30 million euros in the space of twelve months, cutting the ratio of net debt to equity by 29 points in a year, to 120%.

Inventory levels remained far higher than net debt, standing at 1.65 times net debt, compared with 1.51 times a year earlier.

Outlook for 2011-2012

Commercial and financial performance in the first half cannot be extrapolated to the rest of the current year, as the global economic environment will be more uncertain in the second half and the comparison basis less favorable.

The Group can nevertheless reassert its strategic choices.

Its priority remains to speed up the pace of international development for the Laurent-Perrier brand. This will be driven by sustained investment in the brand image, notably with the celebration of the House’s bicentenary in 2012.

The Group will continue to strengthen its balance sheet in line with the wishes of family shareholders, who intend to defend the independence of the House and pursue its development over the long term.

Code ISIN: FR 0006864484
Bloomberg: LAUR FP
Reuters: LPER.PA

Laurent Perrier belongs to compartment B of Euronext Paris
It is part of the CAC Mid & Small, CAC Mid 60 and CAC All-Tradable indices

Champagne Laurent-Perrier – Champagne Salon – Champagne Delamotte – Champagne de Castellane

www.finance-groupelp.com:
www.finance.laurent-perrier.fr